Saturday, July 29, 2006

Nothing sweeter than...

Watching your husband and daughter from afar singing along and doing the correct hand gestures to "Itsy Bitsy Spider."

Friday, July 28, 2006

What does success look like?

I got lots of phone calls and emails from yesterday's post. I am so grateful for many friends and family who love and care about me. I got lots of, "hang in there's" and just plain, "we love you and are here for you" type comments.

I was also emailed this quote that I thought was particularly insightful. What's is interesting is these are the things that are most important to me, and lessons I hope to pass on to Maddie about life:

"On life's report card, attitude counts, enthusiasm counts, a commitment to lifelong learning counts, hard work counts, and helping others counts. If you go all-out, you will feel the difference in the quality of your life, and that is what success is all about." -Steve Lodle

Thursday, July 27, 2006

Heard the heartbeat!

I had an OB appointment today and I was able to hear the baby's heartbeat for the first time. I was sad that Zak wasn't there to hear it with me. I'm twelve weeks, and will begin my second trimester next week. The pregnancy is going well, other than a case of the blah's and mild nausea.

I think the blah's has more to do with the big change next week. I will be:
1. unemployed
2. leaving our home (that hasn't sold yet)
3. moving into a town that I have only visited once
4. living in a one bedroom apartment
5. a stay at home mom

...all within the next seven days.

That's a whole lotta change goin' on. I know there is a lot to be excited about, but I just can't seem to get excited.

Monday, July 24, 2006

Maddie's friend, Kit and her mom, Shannon

My dear friend Shannon invited Maddie and I to her family's lake house for a day of fun in the sun. Kit, Shannon's daughter, is nearly 11 months old. Although it is hard to believe now, she and Maddie will be in the same grade one day!

They are good friends, and Maddie is fascinated with Kit's "baby-ness" and just stares at her all the time. Kit's just starting to walk and is very clumsy and extremely active. She likes to climb on Maddie (and everything else!) and pull her hair. Kit actually pinned Maddie, WWF style, and I slapped the ground and counted, "One! TWO! THREE! Kit's the winner!" and held Kit's arms up in victory while Maddie laughed and laughed.

Maddie doesn't seem to mind, almost like she knows that Kit doesn't know not to pull hair and that she isn't being mean on purpose. This is what Kit looks like right before she goes to pull your hair, steal your cell phone or food, or climb on top of you to win the WWF World Diaper Championship match for a cuddle. Here's the sweet pea, up close:

The girls are pictured above in an inflatable pool, that we actually used it just to corral the girls, but they ended up using it like a wrestling ring, with Maddie bouncing off it on one end and trying to push it over by running to the opposite side where Kit was standing, holding on for dear life.

Maddie also spent time in the lake, playing on the shore, and digging in the coarse sand. She loved the sand, and although she's dipped her toes in sand before, this was her her first time ever playing on a beach. There were a few waves, caused by passing boats and jet ski's, that knocked her down a few times. After a wave splashed water in her eyes, and she went to wipe it out with her sandy hands, which caused her to scream, and put her sandy hands in her mouth. By the time I got to her, I was laughing and wasn't sure what to do to help her first...get the sand out of the eyes or mouth? She refused to spit, and I could hear her chewing on the sand a few minutes later.

I met Shannon at work seven years ago, and it was friendship at first site. We've been close ever since, sometimes working closely together and other times working at two different offices across town. She's one of those friends that you have for life....not just a passing "work" friendship, but a cherished lifelong friendship.

Shannon's family has really been our second family while we've lived in Chicago. Shannon's parents, Ken and Susie, have treated Zak and I like one of their own over the last 7 years. We've been to holiday gatherings, family parties (which are held nearly every weekend), and weddings. Although they may drive Shannon crazy at times, they are truly a family who loves each other more than anything and always puts family first. This unbreakable, unconditional love is uncommon in families today, and I admire them tremendously for it. They are there for each other, everyday, no matter what. Their example of a close knit family, always touched me and made me yearn to have my own family nearby. Even though they welcomed us like one of their own, I still felt our lives in Chicago were missing something.

I had the honor of being in Shannon's wedding, and the huge honor of actually walking her mother down the aisle, when I was 7 months pregnant. "Are you sure you want me to do that? Shouldn't a family member, or one of her sons, do that? I don't want my big belly to be a distraction. I promise my feelings won't be hurt if you change your mind." Shannon insisted I walk Susie down the aisle, and I proudly escorted her mother with my big huge belly stealing the show.

Shannon has a vast array of extended family, and once I think I've finally figured out who belongs to whom, there is another cousin she mentions or another family reunion to go to ("not from my mom's side, but my dad's side, sister's cousins, distant to The Texans, uncle's family reunion"...okaay). Yes, there is a group of them in South Texas, that they unflatteringly refer to as "The Texans." However, this may one day lead to a special trip to Texas to see us.

She refuses to discuss or acknowledge the fact that I'm leaving next week, almost like if she doesn't talk about it, the day will not come. I will miss her more than I can express here, but am so happy I will have her in my life forever. It will just take longer to get to her.

I love you, Shan!

Thursday, July 20, 2006

19 months

Dear Maddie,
You're 19 months old, and you are one lovey dovey girl. You like to kiss and cuddle and hug. You want to be held and rocked and kissed. I'm so happy about this.

Just yesterday, when your dad came to visit after being gone for two very long weeks, you got so excited to see him. "DaDa!" you screamed. After you hugged and cuddled with him for way longer than normal you said, for the very first time, "I love you." He nearly melted.

Later that same day, after we went swimming, I bought myself a ice cream sandwich. You asked to taste it, so I gave you a bite, "Yum, good. I love you, mommy." I thought it was deliciously funny that you told me you love me after I gave you ice cream, and that you loved your dad after hugs and kisses. I've had so many firsts with you, I was glad to let your dad have this one.

This month, for the very first time in your life, you started to suck your thumb. I noticed this first on a longish car ride. You were suspiciously quiet and I looked back to see you contently sucking your thumb. I tried to distract you by asking you to show me your hands. You showed me the one hand that wasn't stuck to your face. We're not sure what to make of this new habit of yours. I don't want to make a big deal of it, but 19 months sure seems like a weird time to start this baby habit.
You're talking all the time and repeating nearly everything your dad and I say. This is dangerous. One funny thing you've picked up on is, "cute," as in calling yourself cute when you get dressed or after a diaper change. I assume this is something we say to you after you're dressed. You're pronunciation still needs some work. Yesterday, after you told me that you are cute, I said, "yes, but you are also smart, and that is way more important than being cute. Can you say smart?" You responded, "yes, I fart."

This fascination with farts and burps is very entertaining. Since your dad burps every thirty seconds, you have ample opportunity to mimic the various noises that constitute a burp. You laugh, mimic, and say, "'scuse me, I burped," then laugh some more.

Life will be very different in the next month. We're leaving our house in Illinois, and you will not get to play with Ms. Tippi anymore (sorry!). You just figured out the house that we live in too. After we turn the corner to our street, you say, "We're here!"

We will be staying in hotels, apartments and moving into our new house in Texas in the next 30 days. I will need you to be on your very best behavior for mommy, please. I promise we will make time to have lots of fun and go swimming too.



Monday, July 17, 2006

Naperville, IL

Money Magazine just released their annual report of the Best Places to Live in the US. Naperville, IL just ranked number two. We don't live in Naperville, but just 3 miles to the east, however, our subdivision does attend the "esteemed" Naperville Schools. They nearly guarantee that your child will become a genius if they attend one of these schools. That my dear friend, is why we pay a gazillion dollars in homeowner taxes per year. For this reputation. That SHOULD be a reason why someone would want to buy my damn house!

The people in this area are very snooty about how wonderful their town, schools, museums, libraries are compared to yours. I find it a bit off putting. The schools are VERY competitive and if you're just an "average" (read: B+) student in the high schools, you bet your rank will be near the 35% mark. Colleges don't dig that.

There is so much pressure on students to get the highest ACT/SAT score (top in the state, of course), drive the fanciest car, live in the biggest house, and get into the "best" college (wherever that is!) that parents lose focus on what is really important to a teenager. Sex and beer (just kidding, Dad).

Dare I mention that there is NO diversity in the community. Everyone is white and 40ish. There's not much tolerance for "different" (or poor) and I just don't find that to be a healthy place to raise a child.

Funny thing is that we are choosing to leave this "great" town for another that didn't do quite so well in the Money Magazine rankings. It's not that San Antonio was ranked as one of the worst cities, but it could use a bit of work in the school system and crime department. At least there is some diversity (Hola amigos!), a reasonable cost of living, and the traffic can't be as bad. It just could not be possible.

Thursday, July 13, 2006

What I will NOT miss about Chicago

I left my downtown Chicago office today at 3:21. Hey, what can I say? I've got short timers syndrome.

(Boss: just for the record, in case someone gave you this URL, I arrived to work at 7:30, and did not take a lunch. Plus, I worked on my cell phone on the way home, but not in the way that violates our company policy. And, even if I only worked 5 hours today, I'm still totally worth it.)

I left early to "beat the traffic" because I
was tired needed to pick up Maddie. Now, pay close attention to this part:

I didn't get to Maddie's daycare until 5:20!!!

Yes, you counted correctly, a 2 hour commute. Which should only take 35 minutes, which normally takes 45-60 minutes.

I could have driven around the city of San Antonio three times--maybe four--in 2 hours. I could have driven half way OUT OF THE DAMN STATE OF ILLINOIS in that amount of time.

So, I didn't "beat the traffic" today, it beat me. Over the head with its baseball bat.



Maddie, her Papa, and I went to the local swimming pool this weekend. It's a huge complex with kiddie pools, sand pits, big pool, lazy river, a teen "grotto" (Why am I the only one who finds that very Playboy mansion-like?) and waterslides.

As you can guess, we stuck to the kiddie pool. It took The Girl a while to warm up to the fact that there was lots of water around, but no bathtub in site. She went to this same pool many times last summer, but apparently forgot. She stuck to me and her Papa like glue, only venturing out towards the end of the day. She did get brave enough to go down the kiddie water slide, which was probably four feet tall and dumps the kids into two feet of water. This means that she was completely underwater at the bottom. She was a bit freaked out after I pulled her up, but said, "again!" and went one more time. All the other kids were at least a year older, pushing and shoving their way up. She held her own, but chickened out at the very top of the slide the third time, said, "no," and climb right back down the stairs.

Here she is in her bikini, a gift from Francie last year. It just now fits her...kinda small, but who cares, it's a bikini!

She kept looking down at her belly (sticking out) and trying to get her bikini top to cover her belly. She would pull and pull at it to try to make it come down, to no avail. She will also be very mad one day when she sees that her swim diaper is bigger than her bikini bottoms and stick out the top...not a very attractive look! Sorry babe, but you're only 18 months old, but you're already a body conscious diva.

The funniest part of the day involves food. We packed a lunch for her, which she scarfed down, but apparently was still hungry. There was a family sitting next to us eating out of a bag of chips. Maddie casually walked over to them, stuck her hand in their bag, and pulled out a handful of pringles. It was so funny. I was a tad embarrassed, but the family thought it was cute and didn't mind. She tried to go back at least three times for more chips. At least she isn't shy!

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

Week 8

Written on: June 26, 2006

Dear baby-pukey,
I thought I was in the clear....not sick for the first eight weeks. Nope, the wave of nausea finally hit me yesterday and kept me down for 24 miserable hours strait. I've also got the problem with smelling and looking at certain foods. Great. Carb city, here we come.

Your dad and I went to the doctor today and saw you for the first time. I was very surprised and super excited to get an ultrasound (I didn't with your big sister until 20 weeks). You're tiny, just the size of a raspberry, but your heart is beating away like crazy. We saw you clear as day, although you look like a little blob now, we know you will be a cute little monkey.


P. S. Your big sister says, "Hi, Baby!"

Monday, July 10, 2006

St. Joseph

Have you ever heard of the tradition (some say superstition) to bury a St. Joseph statue in your yard when your home is for sale?

Well, our house is still for sale, with no offers to date. On top of that, we had ZERO showings this entire weekend. That's no bueno.

I know lots and lots of Catholics now that I live in Chicago...some more "practicing" than others (you know who you are). Almost every Catholic I know asked, "Did you bury St. Joseph?" when we put the house on the market.

"Um, no. I don't know what you're talking about." That's actually a common thing I tell my Chicago Catholic friends. They've taught me a not to try to wipe the ashes of their foreheads on Ash Wednesday (I didn't know!). When I lived in Texas, I knew ONE Catholic family. My closest friend, Dina, was raised Catholic by her parents, and much to her mother's chagrin, decided NOT to become confirmed. So, I don't know that she counts, but her parents do.

Okay, so back to St. Joseph. He's the Patron Saint of Home, Family, and Workers. "They" say to bury St. Joe upside down (feet towards heaven) facing your home and ask for his help. Almost every Catholic I've talked to about St. Joe promised it would work, and we would soon get an offer on our home.

I took my handy dandy garden shovel, dug a hole in just in front of the big huge tree in our front yard, put St. Joseph in there head first facing the house, and covered him with dirt (and a little mulch to keep him moist). I said a little prayer for him to help us...maybe you could do the same?

My prediction: I think we'll get an offer on the house within 2 weeks.

Friday, July 07, 2006

Dear Baby--1st letter

June 2, 2006

Dear Baby,
I just told your dad and your big sister that you were on your way.

I don't really don't believe it myself. Less than 14 days ago you were a sad little egg who hadn't met the right sperm yet. My uterus is kinda like a Singles Bar, just one female with a bunch of horny guys. I guess you met the right one this time. Funny how that works, huh? Now you are complete. A one and only.

Your big sister, Maddie, didn't really get it when I told her she was gonna be a big sister. I asked her to hand the pregnancy test to your dad so he could read it, but she was too busy playing with a rock to be bothered with news of a sister who will no doubt change her life forever.

Once you get here, and are old enough to play, I am sure she will be thrilled. Thrilled to not be the center of attention anymore, thrilled to hear you cry at night, thrilled that you will occupy mommy's arms more than she will for a while, and thrilled that you get the beeboos instead of her.

We also decided today that we were going to move back to Texas. This is big decision for us, and I'm sad that you will never get to know our Chicago friends. The reason we decided to move back is really for you and your sister. You have a lot of family who live there and we don't want them to miss out on your lives.

I already love you, and I just want to say thanks for not making me queasy yet. I'd appreciate you consideration for the next nine months as I serve as your pilot. Please keep your arms and legs inside the aircraft at all times with your seat belt securely fastened.


Tuesday, July 04, 2006

Um, like we don't have a million other things going on

Here are some Fourth of July fireworks for you!

Maddie is gonna be a big sister!

Does this mean I have to change the name of my blog?

Sunday, July 02, 2006

Zak's gone

Zak left for San Antonio today. His new job starts this week. I think I kinda pretended it wasn't really happening, until I saw the gigantic suitcases. The ones we take to 7-10 day long vacations to the beach, only this time, I wasn't going, and he packed them full of work clothes...not island wear.

I've been away from him for longish periods of time, but this time, it's different. The stress of my commute, keeping the house in "show" condition, and being a single (albeit tempoary) mom is just too much.

When Maddie and I dropped him off at the airport, I lost it. I just sobbed and sobbed. I tried to hold it in, knowing it wasn't any easier on him to leave us. He's navigating a city he doesn't know, settling into his tempoary tiny 600 square foot apartment, making final arrangements on our new home, dealing with the re-lo company, AND starting a new job...all alone.

The GOOD news is that my dad is coming (sent from heaven!) to stay with Maddie and me for as long as we need him. Zak is also allowed to take several trips home at the new company's expense. We won't see him until the 14th, but I know the three of us will make it.